By Andrea C. Beile, Sacramento, CA
I wanted to share with you a trip I took to Europe with my then-9 year old daughter Emily (who has PKU)
On March 20, 1996 1 traveled with Emily to Germany to spend 2 weeks with my cousin who lives in Stuttgart, Germany. The German airline, Luftansa, provided a delicious low protein meal, which I had selected from a list of special diet meals weeks before we departed. We also brought along quite a few snacks for the 11-hour flight (including chips, rice cakes, fruit leathers, apple chips, assorted candy), and of course our mini ice-chest in which I put formula frozen broccoli burgers, and frozen bagels.
When we arrived at my cousin’s home, 1 was amazed at all the low-protein foods that she had already purchased. She had contacted Petra Reus the president of the local PKU support group in Stuttgart, who told her of the many low-protein foods available and how to purchase them. Stuttgart also has a local bakery that will bake low phe breads, stollen (German festive bread), Bavarian soft pretzels (Emily’s favorite) and an assortment of low phe cookies. All one has to do is call and place your order by Tuesday morning and you can pick up your baked goods on Wednesdays. We ended up buying a stash of the Bavarian pretzels which we brought home frozen in the ice-chest. Emily has rationed them to try to make them last as long as possible.
Also available throughout Germany by mail are assorted chocolates and low-phe candies and sweets, and of course all the baking mixes and pastas that are available to us in the states. Available in the health food stores are assorted low-phe spreads for bread—even one that resembled liverwurst—and some lower protein vegetable hot-dogs. Emily and I were so amazed at the incredible assortment of low phe foods available in Germany, and most amazingly, that they were 100% covered by their health insurance. Emily decided right then that she wants to go to college in Germany. We'll see.
We were invited for coffee by Petra Reus on afternoon and had a lovely time sharing stories and ideas. Her husband is a German who works for Hewlit-Packard and speaks English well. Petra had baked an adorable bunny shaped low-phe Apfe Kuchen (apple cake) which Emily and her three-year old son, Andre, really enjoyed. Also, she had purchased from her bakery a delicious low phe Easter bread.
I was truly shocked when Petra told me about her PKU vacation. PKU moms and their children are invited to spend one month at a resort on the North Sea, with low phe food and menus prepared, and of course all expenses paid! Petra said that it was the first time in her life where she didn't have to plan or even think about Andre's diet. I cannot even imagine a trip like that! Most of their travelling, however, is done in their recently purchased VW van. They plan on travelling through Europe with it. It is equipped with a stove and refrigerator which will enable her to cook for Andre on the road.
Our trip was definitely a memorable and enriching one and I would never hesitate to travel to Europe with Emily again, even though this trip was spent visiting family and friends. It just took some extra preparation and planning, which we as PKU parents are used to anyway.